American Journal of Dance Therapy

, Volume 8, Issue 1, pp 37–45 | Cite as

Treating psychogenic somatic disorders through body metaphor

  • Linni J. Silberman-Deihl
  • Barry R. Komisaruk


The present study provides evidence that psychogenic somatic manifestations can be best understood as a form of nonverbal communication. The somatic manifestations described in this study can be viewed as body metaphors (i.e., bodily expressions) of specific feelings that the clients are initially unable or unwilling to express verbally. The manifestations often appear to be metaphors expressed in terms of body movement, posture, pain or restriction of movement or feelings. Certain covert visceral manifestations are in some instances associated with these overt musculoskeletal metaphors. In response to the therapy described in the present study, the clients eventually express their feelings verbally, thereby both elucidating the symbolic meaning of the somatic manifestations and gaining a new, adult perspective on the basis for their feelings. This process facilitates their relinquishing of these manifestations. Through reinterpretation of the musculoskeletal metaphors, the visceral manifestations may also be ameliorated via normal visceral, somatic, integrative routes. The main elements of the therapeutic method can be characterized as follows:expression / exaggeration / regression / reinterpretation / adaptive integration.


Social Psychology Health Psychology Body Movement Main Element Therapeutic Method 
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Copyright information

© American Dance Therapy Association, Inc. 1985

Authors and Affiliations

  • Linni J. Silberman-Deihl
    • 1
  • Barry R. Komisaruk
    • 2
  1. 1.Private PracticeNew York City and Quogue
  2. 2.Institute of Animal BehaviorRutgers UniversityNewark

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